Charity beach volleyball event raises $5K

Posted on 29 March 2018 by LeslieM

By Gary Curreri

Ben Koos couldn’t have been happier with the recent charity beach volleyball Pro/Am Tournament on Deerfield Beach.

The Embrace Life Children’s Foundation teamed up with Dig the Beach Volleyball and raised more than $5,000 to go towards helping children in the community and those proceeds went directly to helping the Salah Foundation Children’s Hospital at Broward Health.

The event was a good start to hopefully an annual event,” said Koos, the tournament organizer. “We had over 100 players come out between Saturday and Sunday, which made for great viewing for the fans and a great time for the players.”

The inaugural event featured two days of competition, including Men’s/Women’s Doubles for both professional and amateur players, while Sunday included Junior Boys/Girls 12-18 and Co-Ed Doubles.

Several community sponsors joined in, including Jersey Mike’s Subs and Harmless Harvest Coconut Water, who fed and hydrated the players. Other local businesses supporting the event included Rox Volleyball as a Title Sponsor, Pediatrix, Island Water Sports, Hypower Electric and International Union of Police Associations.

Koos’ wife, Carolyne, who helps run the charity, also deemed the event a success.

We ended up with 100 players, which wasn’t bad for the first time,” she said. “With the funding we received, we have been able to outfit the NICU and Pediatric Unit with some much-needed items on their wish list and also pay for transportation for the sickle cell pediatric patients to Camp Boggy Creek, so those patients can forget their medical issues and just have fun for a bit.

We just had a Spring Fling visit filled with bunnies, chicks, and spring goodie bags and toys for all of the pediatric patients from oncology, peds floor, to PICU and NICU,” she continued. “It is a joy and a blessing to help these families with whatever they need from help with medical bills to fun group outings with patients to shows, or tickets to events, funding for medical research, or day-to-day needs, like clothes, or computers.”

Carolyne Koos said the organization does what they can to try and improve the lifestyle. She and her husband started the non-profit charity organization after their 2-year old son, Christian, passed away recently after a long battle with a rare neurological disease. His genetic disease, known as Leukodystrophy, can affect anyone from a newborn baby to an elderly person.

Whatever makes their life a little easier while they work on getting better, we are happy to do,” said Carolyne, who would bring gifts to the Broward General Medical Center and Miami Children’s Hospital during her son’s stays “just to see a smile on a child’s face.”

Carolyne speaks with the child life advocates at each hospital to find out the needs of the children and to find out how they can help.

As always,” she continued, “being 100 percent volunteer driven with no administration costs or salaries, you can tell our heart is in what we do. It truly is a beautiful gift to be able to work with and help these families…I have to say from my point of view all the players, organizers, promoters and supporters were nothing short of a huge blessing to me and the families.”

For more information, visit www.embracelifechildrensfoundation.com.

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FLICKS: The Death of Stalin, I, Claudius & Jesus Christ Superstar

Posted on 29 March 2018 by LeslieM

By “Cinema” Dave

http://cinemadave.livejournal.com

It took a poorly reviewed Pacific Rim sequel to slow down the box office juggernaut known as Black Panther, which became the No. 1 box office movie in comic book history. In the following weeks, Ready Player One and Avengers: Infinity War will attempt to achieve Black Panther’s lofty box office height.

With more subtle box office numbers, The Death of Stalin opened as a modest hit. A dark comedy about the transition of Soviet dictators, this film could be seen as a chapter of Monty Python presents Masterpiece Theater. While a Monty Python cast member has a supporting role (Michael Palin), it is Steve Buscemi’s performance as Nikita Khrushchev that steals the show. A conspiracy plotter who coldly exploits the weaknesses of his comrades (especially Jeffrey Tambor as a Stalin sycophant), Bescemi’s Khrushchev is given moments of slow burn comedy as he becomes the leader of thugs and idiots.

Given Russia’s brutal history, there are plenty of gruesome moments that are given dark comedic spin. For example, a medical examiner performs an autopsy of Stalin’s brain, in front of a quibbling government committee trying to determine foul play. The grossness of the scene is punctuated by Stalin’s children walking into the room while their father is literally getting his head examined. The absurdity of human misbehavior is truly revealed in this film.

It has been 42 years since I, Claudius premiered on American Public Broadcasting Television. Shot in soap opera style on videotape and based on Robert Grave’s historical novels I,Claudius and Claudius The God, the 13-part miniseries, presented early days of Roman History, full of political speeches, bloodshed, sex and a surprising amount of nudity for broadcast television. The series ignited the careers of Patrick Stewart, the late John Hurt, John Rhys-Davies and Derek Jacobi as the title character who lived in the time of Christ.

With four months of hype and promotion on NBC, the musical Jesus Christ, Superstar Live in Concert will commence at 8 p.m. on Easter Sunday. With music from Andrew Lloyd Weber and lyrics by Tim Rice lifted from their hit Broadway musical and 1972 motion picture, this production has always been controversial.

Given the counter culture movement of the 1970s, Weber and Rice sought to present a view of an alternative Jesus, in contrast to sword and scandal epics that featured Charlton Heston, Jeffrey Hunter and Max Von Sydow. They chose to present Jesus as a celebrity to be envied. This envy led to betrayal by one of his disciples, Judas. Thus, Jesus Christ Superstar has been referred to as The Gospel of Judas.

Regardless, this musical about Jesus has endured, with a soaring musical score and a popular song, “I Don’t Know How to Love Him,” which will be sung by Sara Bareilles. John Legend will carry the cross for this three-hour live event. In a small, but showy role, expect Alice Cooper to steal the show as King Herod. [See more on Cinema Dave’s adventure to see Alice Cooper perform recently in Orlando at www.observernewspaperonline.com].

Happy Passover & Happy Easter!

 

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CLERGY CORNER: Plato, DNA & God

Posted on 29 March 2018 by LeslieM

Who knows why we experience what we do, meet who we do, or read something when we do. Some say the what, who, and when of our lives are elements in a divine plan, and some say they are nothing more than pure serendipity. Whatever the case, they are the parts that make up our lives and formulate our view of the world. I recently had a what, who and when experience that put a more hopeful spin, at least for me, on our troubled world.

The what part of the experience were words attributed to Plato which acknowledge that love, in all its glorious manifestations, is what each of us seek in our lives. The who part of the experience, was David Christian, from San Diego State University, and his explanation of DNA, from which our search for love logically proceeds. The when part of the experience was re-reading The First Epistle of John, and specifically the words “God is love,” which for me, tied the whole experience together.

Now before going any further, we need to acknowledge that most theologians identify four different kinds of love: empathy, friendship, erotic and unconditional. The love at the core of our being is not apportioned by these distinctions; it is just there, as necessary to our well-being as is the air we breathe.

First, Plato’s words are as true today as they were when he wrote them in the 4th century BC: “Every heart sings a song, incomplete, until another heart whispers back.” Yes, God created us as unique individuals but our creation is defined and completed by our relationships with God, with our fellow men and with those we love. We have probably all considered the question: “If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?” This question also applies to human beings: “If we wander through the days of our lives without any meaningful relationships, do we even exist?” The answer is an affirmative. Yes, a tree does make a sound, and yes, we do exist. Plato reminds us of this truth about ourselves with his words: “Those who wish to sing always find a song.”

Second, each of us has some measure of control over our relationships and whether or not we lift up our voices in song. However, the makeup of our DNA is another question. The essential components of our DNA are beyond our control.

David Christian described DNA as two chains each containing clusters of atoms. These two chains bond together when the atoms of one chain exactly match the sequence of the atoms of the other chain. Mea culpa if my understanding of Professor Christian’s description of DNA goes down the wrong track, but if it helps to remind us that our hearts are only complete “when another heart whispers back,” then I think we are on the right track to understanding that we are created for meaningful relationships; it’s in our DNA.

Finally, there is Saint John’s declaration that “God is love.” This is where the what-who-when experience gets complicated. If “God is love,” and if the first chapter of Genesis tells us that “God created man in His own image,” then how do we explain evil and hatred in the world? The answer, of course, involves God’s “gift” of free will. This gift enables us to act either in love or in hatred. Why were we given such a gift? We were given free will because, without it, our expressions of love or hatred would be meaningless; they would only be mindless reactions to the people and events around us. Our reactions are only meaningful if they emanate from our free will.

God’s gift of free will to mankind assures us that there is hope in the world. It enables us to respond to people and events by finding a song to sing based on the love God sang to the world, from the moment of creation; a melody He placed in each of our hearts.

Rev. M. Tracy Smith, SSA, Rector is from the Saint Peter’s Anglican Church, 1416 SE 2 Terr., Deerfield Beach, FL 33441. For more information, call 954-695-0336. Wednesday: Holy Communion at 10 a.m., Sunday: Holy Communion at 10 a.m.

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Cinema Dave meets Smokey

Posted on 23 March 2018 by JLusk

As a prodigal Roman Catholic, I avoid eating meat during Lenten Fridays, which was appropriate when meeting legendary soul singer Smokey Robinson last Friday, March 16, at a special event held in Miami. Best known for his “oldies” hits like “The Tears of a Clown,” “The Tracks of My Tears” and “Going to a Go Go,” Smokey was in town to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day at Jazz in the Gardens, sharing the stage with Chaka Khan and Anita Baker, but also stopped at a special event that showcased his wine label, “Smokey Robinson Wines.”

Learning that Smokey has been a vegan for two and a half years, I asked him what I should eat with with his wines, to which he said, “People like the reds and the whites with meat and fish, but I would have a salad.”

Gouda cheese was provided for the wine sampling, for which the Riesling was fully  complimentary.  However, it was the Cabernet Sauvignon that made me long for Mom’s macaroni sauce or the eggplant parmigiana meal from Nick’s [in Deerfield Beach].

His looks, energy and vitality belie the fact that Smokey Robinson is 78 years old. Besides his Smokey Robinson Vineyards, the man still performs a two and a half hour show with a North American Tour planned through August. His timeless music has generated an audience both youth and old. When asked about his “Timeless” appeal, Smokey modestly answered, “It is a blessing, man, living a life doing what I love.”

As both a Motown singer and songwriter, the secret about Smokey’s music is inclusion that surpasses generations.  A Smokey Robinson concert is a family event that grandparents, parents and children can attend and have a good time together.

There is something “old school” about Smokey that is endearing. At the press junket, my colleagues took pictures and recorded interviews with their cell phones. As I prepared my equipment, I mentioned to Smokey that I missed my old tape recorder.  Smokey replied back with a teachable moment, “Tape is reliable. I wish I could get into the Motown vault.  I’ve got so much unreleased stuff in there by artists that I recorded or myself. I wish I could get in there!”

Even though Motown is under new ownership, I can see Smokey finding a way to get into the vault. All he  needs to bring to the front desk is some gouda cheese, macaroni sauce with a bottle of Riesling and Cabernet Sauvignon, respectively!

Photos by Cendino Teme.

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Crystal Lake Golf Club closes

Posted on 22 March 2018 by LeslieM

By Gary Curreri

After more than a half a century, the Crystal Lake Golf Club in Deerfield Beach has closed.

Many of the golfers sat around the bar on the final day on March 11 and spoke of the memories they had at the course. Several had moved over four years earlier when the nearby Deerfield Country Club closed in 2014.

Lighthouse Point’s Dottie Birney played at the course for five years. The 6,953-yard championship par 72 golf course was built in 1965 and re-designed by Rees Jones in 1981. It was then renovated in 2000.

This place was nice because it was a working man’s golf course,” Birney said. “It is a nice place to meet and have fun with all kinds of people. It was a good golf course, a challenging golf course, and I am going to miss it a whole helluva lot.

The ladies that I play with came here four times a week,” Birney added, “You could come to it, it’s a social place and this was a home away from home. It was a warm nice place. I don’t know where we are going to go now.”

Boca Raton’s John Nixdorf also came over from Deerfield Country Club four years ago. He said they had a regular Saturday group.

It has been a great spot for the Deerfield Country Club crew to get together and play,” Nixdorf said. “They were really accommodating to us on tee times. It is sad that they are closing, and it was crippling that Deerfield [Country Club]closed…we developed a very nice community [about 20 golfers] and had people of all different levels.”

Hillsboro Beach’s Don Forster played three to four times a week at Crystal Lake. The 88-year-old recorded 13 of his 14 hole-in-ones at the Deerfield Country Club before moving over to Crystal Lake.

I was at the Deerfield Country Club for 20 years,” Forster said. “Deerfield felt like a home because everybody knew everybody. I have a lot of fond memories there, but I am sad to see this place close too. All I do is eat, drink and play golf.”

Deerfield Beach city commissioners agreed to allow more than 400 homes to be built on the 109-acre Crystal Lake course in August 2017. A total of 290 houses and 125 townhouses are expected to be built on the parcel.

Storey inducted into FAU Baseball Ring of Honor

Deerfield Beach High School graduate Mickey Storey carved out a nice career with the Bucks before he went on to play at Florida Atlantic University and eventually a professional career.

Storey, who turned 32 on March 16, got an early birthday present just days earlier as he was among five inducted in the Florida Atlantic University Baseball Ring of Honor prior to the start of the Owls’ doubleheader win over Seton Hall at the FAU Baseball Stadium.

Storey (2005-08) was inducted along with four former Owl players, including Hugh Adams (2009-13), Bill Cobe (1981-82), Darryl Powell (1981-82) and his former Owls head coach, Kevin Cooney. Cooney was unable to make the ceremony.

The 2004 graduate of Deerfield Beach High School was drafted by the Minnesota Twins in the 22nd round of the 2007 MLB Draft but did not sign and was then drafted by the Oakland Athletics in the 31st round of the 2008 MLB Draft.

Storey, pitched in the major leagues for Houston and Toronto, making his major-league debut with the Astros in 2012. In January, Storey was named manager of the Houston Astros minor league affiliate – the Class A Quad Cities River Bandits based in Des Moines, Iowa. They play in the Midwest League.

Storey made his coaching debut last season as a development coach with Houston’s Carolina League affiliate, Buies Creek. His assignment with the defending Midwest League champions will be his first as a manager.

Storey lives in Wellington with his wife, Monique and their three children.

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FLICKS: Unsane, The Death of Stalin & The Last Suit

Posted on 22 March 2018 by LeslieM

By “Cinema” Dave

http://cinemadave.livejournal.com

Between a week before Christmas in 1997 until a week after Easter in 1998, Titanic ruled the box office. The Black Panther juggernaut feels similar, as films like Tomb Raider, A Wrinkle in Time and Red Sparrow were poised to take the weekend box office crown only to fall short. Perhaps Steven Spielberg’s much hyped Ready Player One might take the Box Office crown Easter weekend, but this weekend features a slew of independent movies arriving at a theater near you.

A student of Sir Alfred Hitchcock, Steven Soderbergh was “the man” in 2000 for releasing two Oscar-winning motion pictures, Traffic and Erin Brockovich. Through the years, Soderbergh has enjoyed mainstream success with films like Logan Lucky and his Ocean’s 11 trilogy. Yet, one forgets that Soderbergh was a founding father of the independent film movement nearly 30 years ago with the release of Sex, Lies and Videotape.

Opening tomorrow, Unsane returns Soderbergh to his “auteur” filmmaking roots. Shot with iPhone technology, Unsane presents creative use of shot composition with natural lighting, presenting hyper-reality of the everyday world. From the opening narration to the character revealing confessions in the blue padded room, Unsane feels like an Alfred Hitchcock B-movie like Psycho and Vertigo.

Sawyer (Claire Foy) has started a new life with a good job in Pennsylvania. She departed her New England home to escape David (Joshua Leonard), a man Sawyer claims is stalking her. Her pain is deep and, one day, Sawyer seeks counseling. Upon her first consultation, Sawyer is told that she is staying overnight in the institution.

Despite her protests, Sawyer is confined to the ward with Violet (Juno Temple), a disgusting cornrow-haired patient who goads Sawyer into violent actions. Sawyer forms an alliance with Nate (Jay Pharoah), who has managed to smuggle a cell phone into the clinic. As her stay becomes prolonged, Sawyer spots her stalker, David, working as an orderly.

Combining conspiracy theories with a debate about the nature of sanity, Unsane is a film that will be talked about for many years. While the story does not hold up for the full 98 minutes, there are many nifty Easter eggs for film fans, including a cameo appearance from Jimmy Kimmel’s arch rival.

The Death of Stalin opens this weekend at the legendary Gateway Theater in Ft. Lauderdale and features broad comic performances from Steve Buscemi, Jeffrey Tambor and Michael Palin. For more info., keep an eye on http://classicgateway.com/gateway.

This Saturday afternoon, March 24, film director Pablo Solarz will be visiting The Living Room Theater at the FAU Boca Raton campus. He will introduce his film, The Last Suit, about an 88-year-old Holocaust survivor who goes on one last adventure to resolve his past. Keep an eye on www.fau.livingroomtheaters.com for movie times and more info.

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CLERGY CORNER: The most influential person in human history

Posted on 22 March 2018 by LeslieM

Palm Sunday observances in churches around the world mark the beginning of Holy Week, the days leading up to and including Christ’s passion and death on a cross. During this time of year, thousands of believers travel to Jerusalem to trace the footsteps of Jesus during the days leading to His crucifixion. Those unable to make the journey overseas will celebrate in their churches with palm fronds, Good Friday observances, cantatas, plays and Resurrection Sunday services. This is the time of year where, despite doctrinal differences or faith traditions, Christians everywhere are unified in their recognition of the significance of this period.

I was thinking about this when I reflected upon Jesus’ influence some 2000 years after His crucifixion and resurrection. In fact, believers and unbelievers alike are being impacted by His life and teachings to this day. A quick Google search revealed that Jesus consistently ranks at the top of surveys and determinations of the world’s most influential people. A few sites put others ahead of Him, Aristotle in one case and Mohammed in another, but the teacher from Galilee is consistently in the top rankings. As a religious leader, Jesus was and is certainly influential, but evidence abounds that He has impacted other areas of society as well.

Nearly a 1/3 of the world’s population, two billion out of seven billion people, identify themselves as followers of Jesus’ teachings. The Bible, which gives details of Jesus’ life and ministry, is consistently the most read book in the world, and a bestseller as well. The teachings of Jesus have influenced our modern valuations of human life and dignity. In the 1st Century, children were abandoned or sold into slavery. Early Christians were known to rescue newborn babies who had been left in Rome’s trash dumps. Jesus’ interaction with children, women, the sick and the poor revealed His estimation of their value. The first hospitals, orphanages and feeding programs came into being through Christians’ efforts to obey His instructions.

In the arena of education, His influence is evident as well. Only the elite of the ancient world had access to education. The libraries of the monks inspired the first universities of the 12th and 13th Centuries. Cambridge, Oxford and Harvard were formed originally as Christian institutions. In America, the Puritans were the first to pass laws mandating the education of the masses, and Biblical literacy was the emphasis of children’s reading texts for 200 years. Science and Christianity seem to have a combustible relationship in the thought and discourse of many today. It can be argued, however, that the Christian view of a rational God who is the source of rational truth inspired the possibility of scientific laws. Many of the founders of modern science were influenced by Christianity, including Isaac Newton, Louis Pasteur and Blaise Pascal.

Time and space would not permit me to detail the influence of Jesus and Christianity upon our concepts of liberty, justice and equality, or upon art, literature, music, words, symbols, holidays, our calendar and a host of other areas of life that we may take for granted.

Whether or not one agrees that Jesus was the most influential figure in human history, it cannot be denied that He has had a remarkable impact upon the world. His 3 ½ years of ministry and teaching have touched countless lives on every continent of the earth, and His influence is an ongoing reality throughout the world today. May the power of His life and teachings inspire you this season and for all time.

Bishop Patrick L. Kelly is the pastor of Cathedral Church of God, 365 S. Dixie Hwy., Deerfield Beach, FL 33441. 954-427-0302.

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Tigers roar to state championship

Posted on 15 March 2018 by LeslieM

By Gary Curreri

With as much time as Blanche Ely basketball coach Melvin Randall spends in Lakeland, maybe he should consider getting a condo there.

The Tigers coach led his boys’ basketball team to their fifth title in seven seasons as they cruised past Jacksonville Creekside, 77-54 in the Florida High School Athletic Association’s Class 8A state championship on Saturday night at the RP Funding Center in Lakeland.

Randall, who has won a state-record eight basketball championships, six at Blanche Ely and two at neighboring Deerfield Beach, said this championship is even sweeter than when the squad went undefeated in 2015.

There was adversity this time around, dealing with a number of setbacks early in the season — namely an 18-point loss to University School.

We took a couple of beatings along the way, which is okay, but growth came in and helped us to get to where we are now,” said Randall. “We were inconsistent in the beginning of the season because they weren’t used to playing with one another and, as the season went on, they understood how to play with one another.”

Randall is 16-1 in the state final four and 8-0 in championship games.

The Tigers finished the season at 24-8. They had two starters back from last year’s team in Joshua Scott and Michael Forrest.

Scott, a junior forward, led the Tigers with 26 points and six rebounds. He was a perfect 7 of 7 from the field and 12 of 14 from the free-throw line. Forrest, a senior guard, had 21 points and helped Blanche Ely win 13 of their final 14 games of the season. Senior guard Anthony Byrd added 14 points.

It’s been an amazing journey,” said Forrest, who struck from distance with a game-high 4 three-pointers. “We won state my sophomore year and came back to win again this year.

With all the things (Coach Randall) does for us, this the only way we can give back to him – just winning the state championship for him.”

We play for Mr. Randall, and I do what I have to do to win,” said Scott, who also had 26 points in the team’s semifinal win.

Added Forrest: “Last year was very disappointing. I really wanted to win two in a row and get that third ring, so I think it motivated us this year.

I thought we would go pretty far this year,” Forrest said. “The intensity was better this year. I think we really played better defense too.

Forrest said going into his senior year was both “fun, but kind of scary too.”

I wanted to go out winning a state tournament,” Forrest said. “(This journey) has been a lot of hard work. A lot of long hours, just being in the gym with Mr. Randall and the other coaches who have helped me become who I am today.”

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FLICKS: Get Out & Miami Film Festival wraps

Posted on 15 March 2018 by LeslieM

By “Cinema” Dave

http://cinemadave.livejournal.com

During the Oscar ceremony, a film that wins a Screenplay award (either Best Adaptation or Most Original) usually goes on to win the Best Picture Award. That did not happen this year as Call Me by Your Name won Best Adaptation (based on the novel by André Aciman) and Get Out won the Original Screenplay, but lost the Best Picture Award to The Shape of Water.

It feels appropriate that The Shape of Water and Get Out are two movies that will be entwined with each other, since they both represent two motion pictures that would regularly be nominated for the Rondo Hatton Award, an honor coveted by Monster Mavens like myself and Guillermo Del Toro in the past. With his recent Oscar win, writer/director Jordan Peele has joined the “Rondo Hatton Appreciation Society” for Get Out. [For more on Rondo Hatton, visit http://rondoaward.com].

A satirical terror flick with comedy overtones, Get Out can be construed as an explanation of a black man’s paranoia. It is the story of an African American named Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) and his white girlfriend Rose Armitrage (Allison Williams). Rose invites Chris to meet her parents in the suburbs. “Wishing that Obama could have had a third term as president,” Daddy Armitrage (Bradley Whitford) and Mommy Armitrage (Catherine Keener) greet Chris warmly.

Behind the smiles, something sinister lies beneath the surface. Mommy Armitrage is a hypnotherapist and she unlocks Chris’ repressed memory. The Armitrage suburban home seems to transform into a gothic Southern Plantation and the African American servants appear to transform into the “Stepford slaves.”

To reveal more, would be a disservice to the shock, surprise and belly laughs found in Get Out. To his director’s credit, Jordan Peele does a great job with the film’s pacing. He fills his quiet scenes with tension that resolve with either a moment of terror or humor. Like Orson Welles, Matt Damon and Ben Affleck (Oscar-winning screenplay writers who lost Best Picture Awards), Jordan Peele will be a force to reckon with for future movie awards seasons.

The 35th Annual Miami Film Festival wraps up this weekend. This festival’s awards will be revealed Saturday Night at the Olympia Theater, with the Historic Alfred I. Dupont Building hosting the night party. Sunday will be the last opportunity to see April’s Daughters on the big screen. Won’t You Be My Neighbor? is a documentary about Professor Fred Rogers, the man who created Mister Roger’s Neighborhood on PBS. While neither film is in contention for a Rondo Hatton Award, both are a fine way to quietly wrap up a St. Patrick’s Day weekend.

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Clergy Corner: Prayer, not platitudes

Posted on 15 March 2018 by LeslieM

If my people, who are called my name, will humble themselves and pray… then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14 (NIV)

After my article was submitted last month, the tragedy at Marjory Stoneman Douglas occurred. Our hearts broke on Ash Wednesday as the news unfolded throughout the afternoon. If Ash Wednesday is a day when we confront the reality of our mortal and broken nature, we certainly saw evidence of this on that very day.

I was taken aback when I heard a brokenhearted student speak. She was clearly frustrated from hearing leaders say “you are in my thoughts and prayers.”

She said, “I want action.”

I certainly do not blame this young woman for her frustration. She just experienced a nightmare nobody should have to face, especially a child. I do not think she was rejecting thoughts and prayers. I think she was frustrated by the fact that this phrase was used as a platitude. I think she felt that the public figures who used these words were trying to appease her, pat her on the head and tell her everything was going to be OK. But, tired of inaction, tired of appeasement and patronization, she spoke out not against prayer itself but against platitudes.

What is a platitude? Merriam-Webster tells us that a platitude is “a banal, trite, or stale remark.” The Cambridge Dictionary definition is “a statement that has been repeated so often that it is meaningless.”

I remember a time in seminary when I heard my New Testament professor express his frustration. A classmate of mine experienced two tragedies in a row. He returned home because his father died unexpectedly from a heart attack. And, while he was at home helping his mother, overcome by the stress of the preparations, he suffered a stroke. We found out about this when we went to class and saw his empty chair. Our professor told us what happened.

Then, he shared with us his frustration, which was not unlike the frustration of this brave student, saying, “I have heard you say to your friends ‘I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers.’ It is like you are putting a band-aid on a broken arm. When this class is over, I want you to go to your dorm rooms and get on your knees and pray for David. He needs more than your words, he needs your prayers.”

I appreciated the honesty of my professor, as well as his wisdom and frustration. He reminded us that prayer is not a platitude, but it is action.

I did go home. I did get on my knees and I prayed for my classmate. I know others did as well.

David returned to seminary a couple weeks later. His mother began her recovery and was doing well. His family was healing from the loss, and David was able to return to his studies. I believe that our prayers were heard.

When we confront a national tragedy such as the massive shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas, we may feel helpless. The good news is that we can do something and, as one who believes in the power of prayer, we can do a lot.

I say to all of us brokenhearted residents of Broward County to do more than say the words “I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers.” Let us be called to action, get on our knees and pray.

Pastor Gross is a pastor of Zion Lutheran Church, located at 959 SE 6 Ave., Deerfield Beach, FL 33441. For more information, call 954-421-3146 or visit www.zion-lutheran.org.

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